My Chinese Mother

A place to record the wonderfully funny things my Chinese Mother says and does, so I will always remember them...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bode the Wedding Reindeer

My cousin Esther's daughter was married a few weekends ago at a lovely, stream side mountain location in Grand Lake, Colorado.

Not only was it fun being in such a cute little mountain town for the weekend, but having the Chinese (the bride's family) and the Australians (the groom's friends & family) together in that cute little mountain town made for some HILARIOUS conversations and the one above.

As I was looking through the online wedding album last night and saw this photo, I could hear my mom telling people at the reception about the bride's 3 year old son, Bode.  "He was the reindeer," my mom had said to me as soon as I saw her after the ceremony.

"Who was the reindeer?" I asked her.


"Bode?  Why was Body a reindeer?" I was very confused and quickly as my brain works to translate the meaning of what my mom is saying to me at any given time...I was totally lost.

"You know", my mom rolled her eyes at me, "He was supposed to be the reindeer in the wedding.   But he refuse to cooperate, so there was no reindeer."

Staring at my mom blankly, I searched my memory of the morning and getting my girls (who were both flower girls) ready for the wedding, I remembered seeing Body with his little suit and untucked white shirt laying on the couch in the cabin watching all the girls get their hair curled while eating candy and finally realized, "OH!  RING BEARER.  He was supposed to be the ring bearer!"  :)

Best of luck Danara and Byron!  Thank you for including us on your special day.  That was a FUN weekend!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What IS that smell?

My mom is here for Christmas!  She does not like driving in the snow, especially in the mountains, but she braved the scary conditions (with only 2 screaming voice mail messages as she was driving down from the Eisenhower Tunnel and down Vail Pass) and arrived late yesterday afternoon!

She brought a gingerbread train for the girls to make, 3 winter coats, 2 pairs of boots, her electronic mahjong and a GIANT plastic container of kimchee.

If you don't know what kimchee is Korean fermented vegetables.  And it smells like...feet.  You only eat it in small portions with your meal, so a giant plastic container can last for MONTHS.  Usually, if you keep it in an airtight container, the smell can be kept at bay and stays confined to the refrigerator.  However, my mother always manages to find kimchee that can surpass the smell of an entire high school football team's pile of dirty socks and cannot be contained inside any type of airtight container!

I never understood how ANYONE would want to eat some of the things I've seen in the Asian markets.  Ever since I was a little girl, going to the Asian market with my mother meant taking a big coat that I could shield my nose and mouth with and try to use as a filter so I didn't have to smell.....WHATEVER was making those smells.  Was it those black 1,000 year old eggs?  Maybe it was the display of  The small shiny things with the heads still on them.  Could it be the..."meat"?

Part of the reason I love to cook, is because I love having people linger in the kitchen "ooh-ing and "ahh-ing" over the sights and smells of the food.  The smells of Thanksgiving meals..the turkey, pumpkin pie...all of those things can quickly stir up memories of family and friends. my house smells like cinnamon pinecones, our Frasier Fir Christmas tree, the almond poppy seed bread that is baking...and dirty feet.  And it makes my heart happy, because it means my Mother is here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cardboard Tunnel

My 6 year old daughter can sing some really difficult songs, even in other languages, because she repeats the sounds she hears...not the sometimes she doesn't always get it right.  You know, like when you've been singing the wrong lyrics to a song for the past 20 years (ABBA "Dancing Queen" - "...see that girl, watch her scream, kickin' the dancing queen...").

My mother does the same thing, only with talking instead of singing.

Like cardboard tunnel.

My mom asked me what it was.  Actually, what she specifically asked was, "What is cardboard tunnel?"

I had no idea.  I asked her to tell me more about what SHE thought it was and how she heard about it.

She told me that lots of people are getting one and sometimes they have to wear special bracelets.


She said that people that work in the grocery store and at the post office and that do a lot of computer work have a cardboard tunnel and that it is very painful so they sometimes have to have surgery.  She actually DID say these things, only it took about 45 minutes and a epic Chinese version of "Kabuki Theater", only with less makeup.

I asked her more about the "special bracelets" and she told me, "you know, those things like a wrap around your arms or legs if it's hurting."

Ah...a BRACE!

Cardboard tunnel = CARPAL TUNNEL!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winter time Strangler

Today my friend Michele shared these Chinglish / Engrish signs with me.  I find it funny that my American friends laugh at these signs and don't even live with anyone Chinese, so they don't get to enjoy the entire spectrum of why these translations are SO funny.  Trying to figure out what my mom is actually saying is part of the comedy experience.

We just had our first BIG snowfall of the year.  Vail Mountain opens on Friday and Beaver Creek opens the following week.

Whenever it snows, my mom always reminds me that I live in a dangerous place, those Colorado mountains!  Even though she's been here thousands of times, to hear her describe the drive to my house, you'd think it was a six hour ordeal, on a one way dirt road, covered with a sheet of ice, with a 1,000 ft. drop off cliff on both sides....and white out driving conditions...24 hours a day/365 days a year.

When I first started driving in the snow on my own, my mom used to tell me that she always had a pair of boots, an extra coat, a blanket, gloves and water in her car in case she got strangled somewhere.  The people where she worked had been puzzled about this for YEARS.  They would keep asking her why she'd need those things if she was strangled.  She just figured they were OBVIOUSLY very stupid not to be prepared for such things.

When my mom told ME that I better be prepared in case I got strangled somewhere, after I finally caught my breath from laughing so hard, I had to give her a little language lesson on the difference between "strangled" and "stranded".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You Got A WHAT?!

Last summer, my mom spent a lot of time in SanFrancisco with my Aunt Esther.  Aunt Esther doesn't wash her own hair, she "gets it done" at a salon.  She has had many different incarnations and colors of hair.  Sometimes she has highlights.  When her oldest granddaughter was about 6 years old, she told my Aunt, "Your hair looks RIDICULOUS!"  That kind of sums up the things my Aunt Esther has done to her hair....if her 6 year old granddaughter thought it looked ridiculous.  MY 6 year old daughter wants to wear a bright orange, waist long, tangled Halloween wig of hair and thinks it's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen...but that's a different story and a different blog.

It would be safe to say that my Aunt Esther might not be the person you want to take hair advice from.

When my mom came back from SanFrancisco and brought Aunt Esther with her (my Uncle had recently died, so my mom has been spending a lot of time with her sisters since they are all widows now) they decided to come visit me!  

Aunt Esther had convinced my mom (unbeknownst to me) to get a PERM. 

A PERM.   In Chinatown.   In SanFrancisco.    For $25. 

I didn't even know you could still get a perm! Very, very short, coarse, constantly colored for the past 20 years Asian hair does NOT perm well...

After posting this to my Facebook wall, my favorite comment was...  "well, on the bright side, now she can be Wayne Newton for Halloween."

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Best Thing for a Cold

My mom has been staying with me for several days, since trying to deal with the sudden death of my cousin, Larry Strobel, several weeks ago, has been extremely difficult.  

Sometimes you just need your Mom around to be OK. 

I started getting sick on Friday night.  My mom has been making the Chinese version of "Chicken Noodle Soup", which (according to her) is Congee (which doesn't have chicken OR noodles in it).  

She has also been pushing "Tiger Balm" on me...having brought back both the white and the brown kind from her last trip to Chinatown when she was in San Francisco.  She tells me, "It is THOUSANDS of years old and has HUNDREDS of uses!  You can eat it if you have stomach pain!"

She convinces me to rub it onto my forehead for my sinus headache.   Once the alternating burning / freezing sensation and extreme eye watering subsides, I decide to look up the "hundreds of uses" of Tiger Balm.  

Directly from the Tiger Balm website, I read out loud to my mom, "100 years of proven success, there are seven listed uses and it specifically says keep away from mucus membranes and "For external use only"."

My mom just shakes her head and says, "I am CHINESE.  That is just Internet.  They don't know."

She is leaving today...but had some parting words of wisdom for me since I'm fighting a head cold....

My Mom: "You should put Tiger Balm on your vibrator. You feel better fast!"

Me: "WHAT?!"
My Mom: "You breathe better"
Me: ........"vaporizer?"

I love my mom.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Gay Community

My Mom's two sisters came to visit us last summer.  My Aunt Esther (in the middle) and her husband (Uncle Doug) live in California and had just moved to a new house that was closer to my cousin, Larry, and his family so they could spend more time with their three grandchildren.  

Aunt Esther took us out to dinner and told us all about her new house.

Aunt Esther: "Larry convinced us move closer to him, so now we live in a gay community"
Aunt Betty:  "GAY?"
Me: "It's a gay community?  How do you know?  I thought you lived in Brentwood?"
Aunt Esther: "I do. But my community is surround by the gays. And we have a pool and clubhouse...."
Me: ......"GATED community?...."